ethics research paper

In Aritstotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, he describes frienship as being divided in to three different types: friendship of utility, friendship of pleasure, and friendship of character, or what Aristotle calls “complete friendship.” According to Aristotle, a friendship of utility is a friendship of “Those who love each other for utility love the other not in his own right, but insofar as they gain some good for themselves from him” (Aristotle, 121). In other words, a friendship of utility is a frienship in which one person is friends with another because that friendship is useful in some ways to them, which could be something like a loose friendly relationship with a business partner (hence the term “utility”). A friendship  of pleasure is a relationship where one person “like[s] a witty person not because of his character, but because he is pleasant to them” (Aristotle, 122). For example, young people, whom Aristotle states are the people more likely to seek this kind of friendship (Dickman, 3/30/2011) because individuals seek this kind of friendship for a simple kind of companionship; In other words, we make friends with people simply because we like them and enjoy filling our time with people we find  pleasant and agreeable. The third and final type of friendship that Aristotle describes is a friendship of character, the rarest and typically longest lasting frienship. This type of friendship is based on a genuine and mutual wish for good for the other person in the friendship, and takes the longest to create. According to Aristotle, “there is nothing absurd in dissolving the friendship whenever they are no longer pleasant or useful” (Aristotle, 140). In essence, Aristotle is stating that where there is no longer utility or mutual surface pleasure in a friendship, there is nothing to keep that relationship together, and therefore breaks. The end of a friendship of character is slightly more complicated, however. A friendship of character ends when “one friend stayed the same and the other became more decent and far excelled his friend in virtue…” (Aristotle, 141), or friends become so different in character they can no longer maintain the relationship, however more value is placed on the previous relationship and therefore “must keep some memory of the familiarity they had” (Aristotle, 141).

The goal of each type of friendship seems related to its purpose for Aristotle. For instance, the purpose of a relationship of utility would be fulfilled once the person in the relationship seeking something from the other person gets what they need or want out of the relationship. The purpose for a friendship of  pleasure would simply be the companionship of another person, sharing common interests and working on a basic mutual understanding that each person involved in the relationship are on common ground. As for friendship of character, the purpose of such a relationship would be essentially the same as a friendship of pleasure, with the added aspects of a mutual sense of respect and genuine wish for each other’s well-being. In terms of what type of friendship Aristotle holds as most valuable, he speaks most highly of a friendship of character. For Aristotle, “friendship is said to be equality. And this is true above all in the friendship of good people.” (Aristotle, 123), which can be said most of a friendship of character.

It is no secret to most people that women are different from men; Women are often seen as delicate and emotional, wheras men have often been archetyped as domineering and emotionally detatched. Women, having always had a gender struggle, are generally seen as possessing inferior qualities in comparison to men’s supposedly superior physical and mental attributes. Through the many different aspects of gender attributes, various types of relationships are created between men and women.

The differences between men and women start not only on a physical level, but a social level as well. For women, friendship can be described in terms of “closeness and emotional attachment. What characterizes friendships between women is the willingness to share important feelings, thoughts, experiences, and support.” (Traustadottir). Because of this aspect, women often tend to form extremely close bonds, and often rather quickly. Unfortunately, also because women tend to form closer, emotional bonds so quickly there is more of a likelihood that the relationship will go one of two ways: the bond between friends becomes stronger as time goes on, or becomes strained and, as a result, heated and broken. Where women tend to gain more friends quickly and make close friends, men tend to have far fewer friends, especially those they would call “close” who they would share intimate details and feelings with. Though because men tend to have fewer friends than women, men will have more of a predisposition to catagorize friends like having “‘activity friends,'” such as a weekly tennis partner or drinking buddies; ‘convenience friends’ where the relationship is based on the exchange of favors; and ‘mentor friends’ typically between a younger and an older man” (Traustadottir). Because of these types of categorization of relationships, men would have more relationships and friendships of the utilitarian and pleasure type, leaving women to be more inclined to create friendships of character, though both genders are clearly highly capable do so for all types of friendships.

Other factors of gender relationships also include social behaviors, nonverbal communication, as well as the way we treat relationships as a gender, based on the social norms,expectations and attitudes placed upon them. “Socializing women as reactive and affiliative motivates them to learn nonverbal behavior that enables them to interpret the moods and feelings of others” (Payne, 132). Also according to Payne, women do this through nonverbal cues like standing close to someone, strong eye contact, and vocal warmth, all of which “establish relationships and reduce power threats” (Payne, 132), making women more inviting and their behavior a contradiction to the somewhat abrasive attitudes and behaviors of men. Therefore, in contrast to women, “Socializing men as proactive and dominant motivates them to display communication behavior that empowers them to control interactions” (Payne, 132). In relation, Payne’s observed nonverbal communication for men include an unresponsiveness to questions and a dismissal of ideas from those they deem subordinates, all of which are an attempt to establish dominance, behavior highly different from that of women and their need to establish a sense of calm and comfort among their peers. Gender behavior also ties greatly into the way we view relationships. ““We view communication in relationships as either intrumental or relational. Males stereotypically use an instrumental communication and females stereotypically use a relational model” (Payne, 77). Males of course more than likely use their intrumental communication to assist in their attempts to establish dominance or to distance themselves from other men because of their reasons for creating barriers which include a sense of competition or a competitive nature, stereotypes of what “real men” do, as well as an apprehension of being seen as homosexual ( Traustadottir). Of course, gender views of relationships also have alot to do with the way we regard them. “Power acts as the capacity to get things done; love means caring for others. People who can integrate and balance the two can attain the highest degree of personal  development” (Payne, 78), and of course there are people of both genders that can reach this kind of personal development, though men tend to focus their attention and efforts on acquiring power of some kind, wheras women tend focus on the love aspect of thier relationships, which can create a large gap in the way each gender views a relationship with one another.

Finally, the way both men and women sparately view sex and marriage plays a large role in how they view relationships with one another. Also in relation to power and love, marriage has a tendency to combine these two factors to create a more complex facet of relationship views. Historically and stereotypically men have power and women have love and these roles are further cemented in a Christian-Judaic view of marriage (Payne, 78). The difference in love and power are also still in more modern society expressing a different view. Women, in the traditional and even in a modern sense, experience double the pressure when integrating home life (taking care of the kids, house chores) and outside work, whereas men face mostly just the pressure of their occupations, which creates a “gender role conflict” (Payne, 83). Sex is also of course a big issue between genders both separately and in conjunction with marriage, though it seems to be  bigger issue in general between men and women. Women more traditionally see sex as something more of a romantic act, shared between two individuals who share strong feelings for one another. Men, in stark contrast see sex and things sex related as an intrumental tool of power and status, and less as an act of romance and intimacy, though there are some instances of this not being the case.
So is it really possible for men and women to carry on a friendship? I think it would all depend on the people that are entering into that relationship. Of course, in many male-female relationships there is a tendency to lean into romantic involvement. However, many relationships of these types have started out with a basis of friendship of some kind, be it utilitarian, pleasure, or character. After all, men have many qualities that women lack, and the vice versa would also be true of women. I think whether or not the friendship would work would all depend on the balance of the qualities that either gender would find in one another, as well as a basic understanding of equality and a sense of mutual respect.

Dickman, Nathan. “Virtue Ethics: Aristotle on Frienship” Introduction to Ethics. Young Harris College, GA. 30 March 2011.

Kalbfleisch, Pamela J., and Michael J. Cody. Gender, Power, and Communication in Human Relationships. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1995. Print.

Payne, Kay E. Different but Equal: Communication between the Sexes. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001. Print.


My ideal audience would be someone in the ethics class who at least has a basic understanding of Aristotle’s different types of friendship, and possible and understanding of gender and gender relationships. I though about and outlined my paper through various times in the week when I did my research, and I finally wrote it on Thursday evening in my room. This time i thought the writing process was a little easier considering we got to pick what our subject was for the last half of the paper and it would could be somewhat opinionated alongside the research we accumulated.
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ethics paper #3

In Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, he gives the idea of there being three spheres, or movements, of existence which consists of an aesthetic,ethical and religious sphere. Through basic Divine Command Theory, which consists of the acknowledgement of a divine being, the notion that this divine being approves or commands of certain actions and has prohibited others, and that whether or not an action has been approved/forbidden determines if it is “right” or wrong,” (Dickman, lecture 3/2/11) connections can be seen between these claims and Kierkegaard’s notion of the three spheres of existence. For instance, in the ethical and religious spheres of the three spheres of existence, which Kierkegaard characterizes as being filled with people that have taken themselves out the distractions of the shallow aspects of the world, one could argue that the people that are grouped into these spheres could more readily recognize the existence of a divine being and the rules that it sets forth than those that live in the moment so to speak, or those that live in the aesthetic sphere.
To further illustrate the concept of the three spheres of existence, Kierkegaard provides an example of a dancer in motion to facilitate a greater understanding of what the is saying. Those that are grouped into the aesthetic sphere are described as “benchwarmers who do not take part in the dance” (Kierkegaard, 41), as they spend too much time caught up in the surface value of things to focus on much else, people who Kierkegaard would also give an example of as a person with a crush. For the people grouped into the ethical sphere, Kierkegaard describes their part of the dance as “mak[ing] the upward movement and come down again…unable to assume the posture immediately…they are aliens in the world” (Kierkegaard, 41) or in other words, these people remove themselves from that of the aesthetic aspects of the world, but they cant seem to place themselves back into it after they have done so. Those of the religious sphere, however, can complete the dance and place themselves amongst the aesthetic again, enlightened; Kierkegaard describes this as “a way that instantaneously one seems to stand and walk , to change the leap into life into walking” (Kierkegaard, 41).
In examining the spheres of existence, one would certainly notice that Kierkegaard pins the characteristic of being “absorbed” onto those that fit into the aesthetic sphere. However, to say that those of the aesthetic sphere are the only ones that are absorbed in something would be false. Even those of the religious and ethical spheres get absorbed in various things, however they focus their time on things that would be considered intellectually stimulating, etc. For instance, in Fear and Trembling, Silentio, a monk, groups himself into the ethical sphere and though monks and others of religion are not absorbed in the same things as someone in the aesthetic sphere, they do spend their time immersing themselves in biblical texts or studying.

In regards to the Divine Command Theory, Kierkegaard seems to embrace the theory and apply it to his own concepts. Kierkegaard in Fear and Trembling states that “but he who loved God became the greatest of all…but he who struggled with God was the greatest of all” (Kierkegaard, 16). Though man can struggle with faith and God, Kierkegaard still acknowledges this and involves this in his concepts. As for authenticity, Kierkegaard’s assessment is that one cannot be authentic and fully explain one’s self, that authenticity is a unique experience that cannot be truely relayed to another person. In Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard relates authenticity with speaking in tongues so that “Anyone who remains convinced of this is not a knight of faith, for distress and anxiety are the only justification concievable” (Kierkegaard, 113), or in other words, any person that could relay what they experienced is not truely authentic.
The three spheres of existence make sense as being part of the Divine Command Theory because of the way Kierkegaard still acknowledges the existence of God as well as his commands, especially through the examination of Abraham and the binding of Isaac, though he has specific focuses, like classifying people into different categories in the three spheres of existence, which also does not seem to contradict the basic claims of the Divine Command Theory.
Some things that a reader of Kierkegaard should keep in mind while reading Fear and Trembling are the convoluted statements that Kierkegaard seems to make, though it only seems so in the way he expresses them. For instance, the way in which he describes speaking tongues and relating that to authenticity.

Of course, in my opinion no theory or concept is foolproff, take for instance my opinion on Kierkegaard’s assumption that absorption is limited to those in the aesthetic sphere. However, I do think that Kierkegaard’s observation of people and his categorization of people into groups is unique and interesting in this uniqueness. Kierkegaard’s analogy of the spheres of existence to a dancer is something i also found intrigueing, as I never would have grouped people into such categories, let alone compared them to movements of a dance, though many people could compare something to the movements of a dance.

My ideal audience for this paper would be a peer in my class, who would already have some knowledge at least of Kierkegaard and the three spheres of existence. I though about and started outlining/writing my paper thursday night while at home an it originally took between 4 and 5 hours to produce and edit. This time the writing process was a little more difficult and therefore made it less enjoyable, though i think next time i will certainly write it on a different day or platform or go about it a different way.

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human communications topic

Topic: The Manson Family (cult community)

General Purpose: To inform

Specific Purpose: I will inform my audience about the compelling rhetorical techniques used by the core leader of the Manson Family cult by applying the concept of face wants, and the nonverbal concept of the six provisions of relationships, and foregrounding these concepts with a discription of the types of individuals generally pursued by Charles Manson and others in the cult known as the Manson Family.

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ethics paper #2

In both Kant and Nussbaum’s views on ethics and Deontology, they focus in part at least on the aspects of autonomy and how that can be undermined through personal actions or the actions of others. In Nussbaum’s article about objectification, she seems to make a basic deontological claim that through objectification, we are denying others of their autonomy. Nussbaum shows how we do this in the article through the examples she gives from other works by different authors as well as her explanation of the seven different types of objectification.
     In the article, Nussbaum combines a little of her own view with that of another author in the part that states “But women are not fish, and for MacKinnon objectification is bad because it cuts women off from full self-expression and self-determination-from, in effect, their humanity” (Nussbaum, 250). I found this statement to be somewhat questionable in the sense that in its feminist qualities, it seems to be one-sided; that is to say, that it implicates that all forms of objectification are always inherently bad and would disconnect women from their own sense of humanity. For me, this statement does not take into account mutual objectification, which may not always be in a sexual context, but would involve two parties, one or both may be women, that use each other as means to an end with a collective understanding that both parties are partaking in this action, understand what that action entails and the consequences of this action. For instance, take the case of a “friends with benefits” situation: both parties have an understanding that they are both using each other as tools of pleasure with no intention of a deeper relationship. In situations like these, the women involved clearly have an understanding of what is taking place and willingly entered into a situation where they would be objectified, a concept that this statement seems not to take into account and seemingly, though feminist, diminishes the choices and independence of women.
      One particularly convinving point that Nussbaum points out in her article is the way we treat children in which she states “The treatment of young children by their parents almost always involves the denial of autonomy; it involves some aspects of ownership, though not all” (Nussbaum, 262), which could connect to what she states later on; “Once one treats a human being as a thing one may buy or sell, one is ipso facto treating that human being as a tool of one’s own purposes” (Nussbaum, 264). Of course, people in our society, or most societies for that matter, do not intentionally think of their children as henchmen or slaves for tools of their own bidding. However, there seems to be  connection between the two different instances when autonomy is ultimately denied of a person, and in the case of parent-child relations it cannot be refuted that, when compared to the observations made by Nussbaum, children are certainly denied of their autonomy. 
     Deontology, a branch of ethics, deals with the very meaning of ethics and what is considered ethical, or right or wrong, as well as the idea of autonomy, or free will. Because the general idea of Nussbaum’s that objectification denies someone of their autonomy, it fits into Deontoloist ideology. The claim that objectification denies a person of their autonomy of course has aspects that disagree in some areas, like the quote that i pointed out earlier. However, based on other claims that Nussbaum makes, like different types of objectification and their examples, the basic claim that Nussbaum makes does not contradict the overall deontological project. Something to keep in mind while studying the intention and meaning of  Nussbaum is to recall the different types of objectification that Nussbaum mentions,  thinking about how they might actually be put into real scenarios and how a person might feel and react to being objectified in these manners; think about the contrast in the way you treat your possesssions and the way you treat others. For example, recall slavery: you wouldnt treat someone in today’s society as property, but that is also not the only way to objectify someone.
     Based on the real-life applications that can be applied to Nussbaum’s claims, there are good reasons to agree with it. For example, from a personal stance, a person who would ignore my feelings, opinions, and self-determination would in my mind be denying me of my own independence. Furthermore, because Nussbaum clearly lays out the different types of objectifications and how they work, as well as it being in more simplistic language, it doesnt take a deontologist to understand or believe the claims that Nussbaum is making. Nussbaum overall took alot of situations and aspects of objectification into consideration and included that in the article, however there are things like I mentioned earlier about mutual objectification that seem to get less mention and acknowledgement.

Nussbaum, Martha C. “Objectification.” Philosophy and Public Affairs. 4th ed. Vol. 24. Blackwell. 249-91. Print.
I picked my suitemate Michelle Honaker to proofread my paper on Tuesday March 1st and I thought about and finally wrote my paper that same day in my common room. This time I felt that the writing process went a little smoother and I felt that the subject matter and the writing was a little better than it was previously.  My biggest criticism of my paper is that it probably could have been written a little better.
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human comm paper

In studying human communications, one finds that there is much more to communicating with another individual than simply opening your mouth and letting words fall out. To experience this, it takes a bit of experimentation which is why I chose to go to the widely popular fast-food restaurant Wendy’s and participate in a social excercise with my friend and fellow classmate, Marvin Hemphill. We figured that, living in the south and experiencing different social norms, it would be a good analysis of social interaction and communication if we went to this establishment masquerading as an interracial couple, as he is African American and I am, to put it quite simply, very caucasian. Undergoing these observations, we made the mutual decision that focusing on kinesics, or movement, and physical appearances would be adequate ways of observing people in the way they communicate nonverbally.

According to Duck in The Basics of Communication “Static non-verbal communication refers to those elements of an interaction that do not change during its course” (Duck, 55). Of course, by referring to static NVC we can safely assume that we mean we are focusing on factors like hair color, age, tattoos, piercings, or even forms of dress to communicate to us basic things about a person we are looking at like a possible interest of theirs or something similar. So basing our experiment on mainly physical appearance, we decided to temporarily conform to typical social stereotypes that are generally applied to others of our own ethnicity and physical appearance and proceed in entering the restaurant ordering from a middle-aged woman, while being overtly flirtatious with one another.

By the woman’s facial expressions we could tell that she was slightly uncomfortable, whether from our somewhat sensual dispositions, our interracial relationship, or the fact that my personal appearance generally takes people aback by my nose ring, shock of platinum hair, or tattoos which were made clearly visible by my revealing attire.  To further the social awkwardness of the situation, we also subjected the poor unsuspecting woman to a double dose of unrelenting stares, at which she had a typical response of averting her eyes to avoid our gazes.   Her following polite verbal communication of course did not match her nonverbal communication of discomfort, unlike like what Duck says about kinesics in that “Most people like to be looked at when they are talking to someone else” (Duck, 69). This woman clearly did not feel rewarded by our eye contact.

By choosing Wendy’s as our place of observation I do not think that deciding to go there necessarily influenced the reactions people had to us as much as or personal appearances did, however I do think that by choosing a fast-food restaurant that sees a variety of people everyday, I think the reactions were much milder there than they would have been if we had walked into a law office, or hotel, or another somewhat less casual establishment. I think that based on the reactions we got, its safe to say that nonverbal communication has a big role in the way people communicate things like, how comfortable or not they are and whether we can use these visual and physical cues to react and respond appropriately to others around us. Of course, people’s verbal communication does not always match up with the non-verbal messages they send out, and I think we experienced the proof of that in our observations. I also think that by paying closer attention to the details that nonverbal communication gives us, we can pay closer attention to what people are really saying and thinking without ever speaking a word.

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By its very definition, consequentialism is the theory that an action is deemed negative or positive based on the actions results. In the Dalai Lama’s “Ethics for the New Millenium,” the Dalai Lama suggests the idea that we are all connected through suffering, and that suffering can be divided into sub-categories as avoidable and unavoidable. This ties into the theory of consequentialism in that suffering can be judged by the outcome of the type of suffering like whether or not suffering is caused by man or another circumstance beyond the scope of our personal actions. To further this previous comment, the Dalai Lama states, ” [avoidable suffering] is the suffering caused by not obtaining what we desire,” ( The Dalai Lama, 135) where all else is beyond our control. Early on his book, the Dalai Lama states that the self “although perfectly adequate as a convention, the self…exists in dependence on on the labels and concepts we apply to the term” (The Dalai Lama, 43). This observation of the Dalai Lama’s is interesting in that it relates to the notion that we are all connected, however it personally creates the thought that he suggests that, in being all one, we project thoughts and actions that seem to be our own while in his sense of reality, it is a thought or action that is dependent on another. The thought could be relatable if  discussing the broader interest of everyone, which is happiness, however to think that each individual would only follow such broad concepts would follow the lines of ignorance. Since, in the Dalai Lama’s scope of things, we are all connected the notion that karma is “escapism” (Dickman 2/2) and that we are all responsible for our own actions is interesting. Therefore, one could make the connection that the Dalai Lama is contradicting himself through the sheer fact that he says that karma is the result of each individuals actions: If, in reality, we are all connected selves then there never could be a single individual to create their own personal karma.

The Dalai Lama’s theory of suffering being avoidable and unavoidable fits in with consequentialist theory in that it goes along with the notion that the outcome of an action determines whether or not that action is good or bad, or in this case, whther or not the suffering is avoidable or unavoidable. The claim that the Dalai Lama is making doesnt necessarily contradict the broader view of the consequentialist theory but it is bent slightly, where contributing factors could be personal views or the Dalai Lama’s Buddhist background that have infused their own kind of perspective into the theory. Also in regards to suffering, the Dalai Lama suggests that, in addition to his theory about avoidable and unavoidable suffering, suffering can be somewhat alleviated by thinking about another situation that is worse, or something to that effect. The Dalai Lama believes this because of his “own experience” in thinking about bad news he hears from Tibet, and that he finds comfort in the thought of the positiveness of the “basic human disposition” (The Dalai Lama, 139). Things that the reader might consider as they analyze and inerpret the Dalai Lama’s overall suggestion is, the suffering that they personally have struggled through and what helps alleviate that suffering as well as what caused the suffering itself, whether it be random or the consequences of human actions.

As with any good argument there are pros and cons, positives and negatives, and reasons to agree or disagree. It would be safe to agree that some suffering would be a result of our own actions, or the actions that are geared towards achieving our own desires and obsessions. It would also be fairly safe to say that people in such situations would hardly find that war is an unavoidable situation. Of course, the Dalai Lama more than likely really means these things in a much broader sense, however he does leave it up to interpretation. In the way that the Dalai Lama puts his views into a a broad and generalized way, the reader doesnt doesnt necessarily have to be any form of consequentialist to comprehend what he is trying to say or to buy into it. I think he pretty effectively brings down his larger concepts and ideas into a general and easily understood concept while also providing fresh and intelligent ideas. I feel that with most, if not all, bigger concepts and ideas there are things that get overlooked, especially when concepts, theories and thoughts become very broad. For instance, maybe the Dalai Lama didnt really consider, when speaking of dealing with suffering,  that others probably wouldnt find solace in thinking of worse situations than their own.

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When driving or walking through a different part of town, you might be inclined to notice particular differences in the buildings, the establishments, and the people that live there. The languages that those people speak in that particular area is no exception to the observations and the close inspections that we make when we go into a new area with new people and new cultures. These languages and language cultures that we would encounter are not usually so different from ones we are used to hearing and coming into contact with on a daily basis, but they are culturally diverse enough for us to notice a difference. Though culturally diverse in many aspects, the languages and dialects we come into contact with frequently in various parts of the United States create initial social prejudices and opinions that we form as generalized personal opinions of the people who speak them.

As with any accent or dialect that a person may speak, there are always opinions formed about the way it sounds, and how it reflects upon the person speaking it. Of course, living in the south draws much attention to this very fact, even points out minute discrepancies with the dialect spoken here. Take for instance, the word ‘ain’t. “The much maligned word ‘ain’t’ has taken more criticism and condemnation than any other contraction in English, to the point where language authorities now regularly condemn the word as “vulgar,” “ignorant,” “uneducated” or worse.” So much criticism and distaste for a dialect simply by using one word, in this case “aint,” shows the simple yet considerable animosty that many other languages, dialects and cultures face. To many in other regions of the country or elsewhere in the world, the southern dialect reflects many negative characteristics like that of being uneducated, unsophisticated, and poor, though countless fail to realize the positive aspects that other dialects and languages can have.

Though many are averse to the twang of a deep southern drawl, or the exclusion of particular consanants or vowels in the pronunciations of words in northern accents, each have aspects that speakers of other dialects can value or find an annoyance. Maybe a nothertherner finds a slow southern drawl to be more of an assualt on the senses rather than musical or pleasant in any sense, however a southerner may find a northern accent just as equally an audible nuisance as any other accent they might come into contact with. Much of this quite often simply has much to do with misconceptions and prejudices previously set forth as social barriers by people who dont speak that dialect or language. “Misunderstandings in large part have been fueled by media portrayals in movies such as Gone With the Wind and in television shows such as The Dukes of Hazard that presented grossly exaggerated and inaccurate stereotypes of SAE.” Of course, as the quote shows, the southern dialect remains one of the most prejudiced regional dialects in the United States, however, it also helps to provide a source from which many steroetypes of language come from. Media remains an outlet which stimulates rampant misconceptions of the way of life certain people live and their socioeconomic status based on simple things like accents. Movies, music, the internet and televison shows all portray things in a one-sided and ill informed manner as a general majority and hardly show the other side of the reality of the lives of the people who speak a dialect or language. For instance, the image portrayed in movies and shows of those who speak in a regionalized “New York” accent, is one which shows the speaker as an individual that comes from minimal means and education who originated or lives in what could be considered “projects” or another form of lower class urban neighborhoods. The same in that sense could be said of those that speak BEV, or Black English Vernacular, as well. Though, because an individual speaks a particular dialect or vernacular, doesnt mean that his or her personal financial or educational standing is as it seems to be at face value. 

Education remains another aspect of judgement placed on people who speak a certain language or in a particular accent or dialect. As if it werent enough that we already daily judge our peers’ level of intelligence based on petty things like who we choose to associate with, the activitities we partake in, or the places we go, we whether conciously or not, form personal opinions of how intelligent a person is by how they pronounce words in the same manner we do.”Our language, be it speech or writing, tells others much about us as we perform linguistic tasks throughout our daily lives. Perceptions of intelligence, or lack of it, are often deeply interwoven with perceptions about language, or specific dialects and accents within a particular language.” This statement could possibly most pertain to the speakers of BEV and ebonics in that they most often face the misconception of a lower level of intelligence which stems from the use by the speakers of these dialects of a different grammatical structure than is typically used by speakers of Standard English.

Decisively though, judgements of accents and dialects become personal reflections of our own perceptions of people and their cultural background. Whether or not we choose to see the differences in dialects as a negative or positive, is entirely optional, however the option of whether or not we should judge others based on the language they speak and how they speak it should not.

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When comparing the works of Daniel Merriam to that of Salvador Dali, one word comes to mind: surrealism. The surrealist movement began in the early 1920’s during and after World War 1 and was the result of a heightened interest in philosophy in combination with an interest in pushing the limits of reality. The movement, or “revolution” as it was so As described by many involved in the movement featured many famous artists like Max Ernst, Rene Crevel, and of course, Dali. As the movement progressed into the 1930’s, the goal of the work created during this artistic revolution similar to he intial goal, was to expose an inherent truth by taking away the normalcy of objects, places and people to evoke emotions from the viewer: a kind of surrealist propaganda. As the artist that best epitomizes the surrealist movement, Dali exemplifies the goal that surrealism tried to achieve. Throughout his works, like his most famous “The Persistence of Memory” or “The Elephants,” Dali takes ordinary objects like clocks and elephants and puts them abnormal situations like inexplicably melting or adds impossible features like spidery legs. By taking ordinary objects and giving them extraordinary features, Dali creates new reality and forces the viewer to see things from different perspectives than they would normally expect to see in other works of art. In his work, Dali not only takes real objects and makes them surreal, but the subjects themselves tend to take on realistic qualities that understates the unreal qualities of the work. For instance, in “Swans Refelecting Elephants” the quality of the water looks real, however the reflections of the swans in the water are different than they should be, making the reflections in the water of the elephants seem almost as if they were meant to be there all along. Daniel Merriam’s work, though different stylistically, also fits into the surrealist category. Merriam also takes many ordinary objects and makes them extraordinary, often by adding faces to inanimate objects or larger than normal eyes. Dali and Merriam are similar in the respect of taking the normal and turning it into something different, however Merriam’s style has a more fantasy dream-like quality which is significantly different than that of Dali’s.

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“Nine Ideas About Language”

In his essay “Nine Ideas About Writing,” Harvey Daniels introduces the idea that all language operates by rules.  Daniels thereafter gives the example that “We English speakers might just as well call a chair glotz or a blurg, as long as we all agreed that these combinations of sounds meant chair” (21).  I found this observation of human language rather interesting because, in this day and age, we do this in everyday language quite frequently, only when we refer to things, people or places in this manner, we call it slang.  Calling something a glotz or a blurg on paper sounds utterly ridiculous, however it is a concept we know very well living in a modern society. Today, if a person were to call a portable, digital music device an “IPod” or an “MP3” player, we would generally know what they were talking about, having had these devices assimilated into our culture and everyday lives. Of course, in today’s society assigning a made-up or slang term to something generally applies as an adjective. For example, a teenager or speaker of the African American dialect might call something that would generally be referred to by the adjective “awesome” might now be called “fly” or “dope,” all of course depending on whether or not that slang term has already gone through its cycle of “coolness.” Many slang terms, however, do not come from a regional, or any other form of, human agreement. They instead come from a vast array of media outlets, like MTV for teenagers or the internet, or even from the music one would listen to on a regular basis. There is no particular rhyme or reason for the introduction of new slang other than possibly the simple, somewhat subconscious, acknowledgement that the person you might be speaking with also listens to, or watches, or talks with the same people or things that you do. Sometimes, maybe not even that. Sometimes it takes context clues to understand new terms or slang being introduced, like for instance the language used in the novel “A Clockwork Orange.” Of course, it also could be as simple as a single person creating a made-up word for something and spreading it like a virus. But that, I think, is what Daniels is trying to get across with his “Nine Ideas About Language.” That language is simply the spread of ideas and the common acknowledgement of a set of rules that applies to everyday life.

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